How many words should I have on each slide?

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How many words should I have on each slide?

How many words should I have on each slide?

I still see lots of presentations with a large number of words on each slide. I was recently sent a presntation with 2,200 words on 22 slides – an average of over 100 words per page.

The average adult has a maximum readindg speed of between 200 and 300 words per minute (although speed readers can go much faster).

While the audience is reading your slides they are not listening to you – the speaker. A good rule of thumb is less than 40 words per slide. This would allow the average reader to take in the text in around 12 seconds and then concentrate their attention back to the speaker.

We all know that a picture is worth a thousand words, so it makes good sense to use pictures not words.

I found this snippet on another bulletin board

“The average reading speed on paper is between 150 and 250 words per minute. At that rate it can take more than 5 minutes just to read a single column of the Wall Street Journal. On a computer screen the situation gets worse. The average speed drops to about 100 words per minute and on a hand-held device it decreases further to only 40-60 words per minute.”

That means that on a presentation screen the maximum 40 words would actually take 24 seconds to read.

I am often reminded of the “less is more” concept in presentations. That people can take in more of the information – if less is given to them.

I remember one speaker who started his speech with the words “Please listen carefully as we have so much information to give to you, that this session will feel like drinking from a hose pipe.”

You should check out Cliff Atkinson’s ‘Beyond Bullets’ theory about Powerpoint make-overs:

Very interesting stuff there about how to use Powerpoint to inspire and motivate people without using lots of words and bullets.

I say KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. Don’t go overboard with the text information. A powerpoint presentation should just be a guide, and should never attract more attention from the speaker (YOU).

-Paul Carahan

HR Student

OK, so you are all going on about how many words. This is not a good idea. The key to PowerPoint is to only have about 2-3 bulleted points on each slide, with maybe 5 words per point. This key to this is that you don’t wan’t to read right from the slide, PowerPoint is only there to guide you. You must elaborate on what you have on the screen, showing that you really know your stuff. A good idea would be to make 2 copies of your slide. One for you audience, and one for you. The one for you of course, has ALL your info on it, while the one for your audience has just the few main ideas. This way your not always looking at the screen and you’ll have your notes right in front of you to refer to, and at the same time, still looking at your audience.

6 x 6 tip

What i learned in college is the technique called 6 x 6. It means the maximum 3 of words should be six going across and six going down. Having too many words on one slide is a turn-off between the presentor and the audience. You’re right about having a picture, it is worth a thousand words. Most people don’t see that.

Well Im a college student and in my speach class, I was told that it doesn’t really matter how much words were on your slides, as long as all of you information for whatever topic you were talking about was on that one particular slide.
It would be better for you to have the main words on the slides in the visible portion of the slide and the notes in the part that the auduence cannot see.
therefore, if you were to give that presentation to your boss or someone that wasnt taking notes, then they can not only see the topics but also the notes that you have provided.

Words per slide

I took a business presentations class in my first quarter in which we did do powerpoint slideshows. It was suggested that you only put on a slide what you want your audienced to essentially absorb and be able to remember. All other additional information that you supply will be forgotten. Out of everything that you say, it is guaranteed they will not remember everything. So I think you should just list they key points that you want to stick out in your audience’s head.

Remember the 6×6 rule.

On each slide try to have no more than 6 lines, with no more than 6 words per line.


I thought this went out with the arc!

More imagination, less words, please!

My favourite slide (currently) is a pic of a skydiver (as it happens, my daughter) two miles up, with just three words on the slide, encapsulating everything you need to do a good presentation. Skills, equipment, attitude.

If it works for skydiving, it works for presenting!


Forget the grammar

Powerpoint slides should only have enough words for the audience to understand the point you are elaborating on.

If you can manage the message (ideally no more than one line). Pause. Let the audience read it. Then you can elaborate on the message.

Otherwise (as many people will tell you) your audience is trying to read your slide instead of listening to you.

You MUST control your presentation.

Another tip…

If you want to make a bold statement…put the words (hopefully short) on your slide. When you get to this slide – do not say a word this is a very hard trick to develop but actually very, repeat very powerful – as the audience are expecting to hear you and when there is silence it creates a real impact – try it!!!

Hope this helps.

How many words should i have on each slide

Use key phrases that include only essential information. Choose only the top points about your topic and make them consistently throughout the delivery. Simplify and limit the number of words on each slide.

i tell the attorneys i work for

that a good-looking slide should have no more than four or five points with six or seven words per point . . . this wall-to-wall text thing is nuts


I’m a Senior Consultant at The Aziz Corporation and we have a couple of rules about slides that you may find useful to avoid:

1/ The rule of 5 – no more than five bullet points with 5 words in each, on each slide
2/ The Fresh Fish Rule – a shop had a sign outside saying ‘Fresh Fish Sold Here’ – there are too many words on the shopkeeper’s sign… which one is redundant? Well, actually all of them are redundant: a sign with a picture of a fish on would tell the public that fish is sold at the shop. Strike out all redundant words (often grammar) from your presentation and use a picture where possible.



I think I’d find it useful to avoid those ‘rules’ too. I hope to God the book is better than your English!


Depends on the presentation

What we are really discussing here is style of delivery.

If the presentation is being emailed to someone it needs to be able to be read without someone there to fill in the gaps of information.

If the presentation is being supported by a presenter then the less words the better. Use few words – or even just one word, keep this as the theme for this particular part of the presentation YOU want to present. If need be support your presentation with visuals. An audience will then listen to you while staring at your slide/visuals, move around if you can while presenting to maintain the audiences attention and you should always try to move the pitch and volume of YOUR voice to avoid monotony. If you appear passionate and interested in what you are presenting your audience will too.

One final thing. Powerpoint has been around for a while and like most Microsoft tools has been exposed to (probably) everyone. Unfortunatley this means alot of people have seen a lot of presentations…if your presentation looks like its been hastily put together and is just the standard PPoint templates your audience will know it and loose a level of interest b4 you’ve even started.

Make a presentation that appears well tailored to your audience and possibly bespoke and you have one gold star against you before your second mouse click!

I hope this helps.

Can’t agree more!

Neil’s right on the money here! If something looks like a standard template people will assume the content of the presentations is as boring and as un-digested as the means by which you’re delivering it!

That doesn’t, of course, mean your PowerPoint (other (better! ) packages are available) template has to be too fancy either – it has to be suitable and it has to look professional and it has to enhance rather than detract from the content.


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Published On: 24th Oct 2015

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